Michigan Environmental Report

News from Michigan Environmental Council on public policies affecting the health of Michigan's people and environment

The Legacy of AJ Birkbeck, PFAS Leader

It began with a skim through the Yellow Pages.

Lynn McIntosh needed an environmental lawyer. Her thick phonebook yielded only one: AJ Birkbeck, Fulcrum Law.

So she gave him a call, and a short while later she was driving from small-town Rockford to East Grand Rapids in her rundown ’97 Mercury van.

COVID fund investments would make people, homes, planet healthier

Healthier, more affordable homes; cleaned-up communities; and a premiere electric vehicle workforce could soon be coming to Michigan.

It was all in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's vision for billions in unused American Rescue Plan dollars, which she revealed Monday afternoon.

The Michigan Environmental Council applauded her proposal, noting its emphasis on clean energy jobs and smart development will create financial and environmental resiliency.

Friends of the Rouge: Fighting floods with gardens & barrels

This blog post is the first in of "Bellringers," a quarterly series highlighting the major accomplishments of Michigan Environmental Council member groups.

When torrential rain hit Sandra Turner-Handy’s Detroit home in late June, her basement was immediately flooded.

She spent the next few days pumping out water, throwing out furniture, fixing a busted water heater and, worst of all, discarding the personal keepsakes of her late mother.

Then came two other “once-a-century” storms.

2021 Milliken Award Winner: Frank Ettawageshik

While an origin story like this is always debatable, Frank Ettawageshik is certain he’s at least had some role in it.

It was summer 2005. Ettawageshik was in Duluth, Minnesota, with fellow leaders from local, state and federal governments releasing a report on ways to best protect Great Lakes ecosystems. He represented Indigenous tribes as the chairman of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.

Sometime during the summit, Ettawageshik spoke about a simple conservation practice: turning off the tap when brushing teeth.

Doing so, he said, means less water is used and less energy is generated to draw, move, dispose and purify it. Not a big deal if only one person does this, Ettawageshik admitted, but if everyone followed suit, the impact would be phenomenal.

2021 Petoskey Prize Winner: Karen Harrison

This summer, Karen Harrison has watched flowers bloom, frogs plop into water and salamanders waddle across grass from her backyard against the Au Sable River. Then, as summer turns to fall turns to winter, she’ll watch the tree foliage fall away, and in that newfound emptiness, she will take in the full scope of the river, a ribbon of cerulean cutting against the white.

It is this dynamism that Harrison loves best about the Au Sable and the Upper Manistee Rivers some three miles away. The rivers and the worlds in miniature they create perpetually, subtly move and change over the days and seasons.

Michigan Environmental Council on Sen. Carl Levin’s passing

The Michigan Environmental Council is saddened by the passing of Sen. Carl Levin. As a Detroit native, he was a strong advocate of Michigan’s environmental issues, social justice issues and serving his hometown from acting as the co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Taskforce to securing millions in funding to create the Detroit Riverwalk which is now one of the country’s premier city riverfronts.

Sen. Levin possessed the kind of qualities we aspire to have including integrity, transparency and accountability. The legacy of his leadership and his advocacy of the environment will continue with the countless individuals he inspired throughout his career, including MEC staff.

Energy efficiency, electrification rooted in state building code recommendations

The Michigan Environmental Council and 30 organizations and municipalities outlined the ways Michigan buildings codes could save residents and businesses money and fight climate change in a letter of recommendations sent to the state.

In a letter to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, the coalition urged the inclusion of robust energy efficiency and electrification provisions in the update of Michigan's energy conservation code, which governs the process of constructing homes and businesses across the state.

After record parks turnout, Gov. Whitmer proposes more funding

On the heels of a record year for Michigan parks attendance due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced last week a proposal to spend an additional $150 million in American Rescue Plan funds to improve infrastructure at local parks across Michigan. The announcement is an addition to the $250 million Whitmer announced in June for upgrades to the state’s park system, which the Michigan Environmental Council also supported

The budget proposal, which requires approval from the state legislature, would create a grant program administered by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources that seeks to enhance the economies, health and recovery of local communities across the state.